Monday, October 31, 2016

Now on Netflix: Other People (2016)

Other People movie poster
Other People (2016) - Written and Directed by Chris Kelly; Starring Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow, June Squibb, Matt Walsh, Paula Pell, Kerri Kenney, Zach Woods, Retta.

By Kenny Howell

The genre of men or women going back home to find themselves has become a thing all its own, especially since the rise of independent films in the mid-1990s.

They usually have achieved something, don't like where the came from, and hate every minute of being back home until they don't.

Other People, written and directed by Saturday Night Live writer Chris Kelly, sort of falls into that genre. Jesse Plemons (Bridge of Spies) plays David, a comedy writer for Saturday Night Live who goes back home to Sacramento to take care of his mother who is dying of cancer. The movie doesn't really focus much on any kind of personal search for David, but rather his relationship with his family. David is a gay man, and his coming out is still kind of touchy with his parents. His mother has come to terms with it and apologized for her initial reaction. But his father, played by Bradley Whitford, has not accepted it. He is a loving dad, but he just tries to pretend David's homosexuality doesn't exist.

Other People doesn't really come to any deep introspection or life, but it does allow Plemons and Molly Shannon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), who plays his mother Joanne, to really carry the movie. Plemons is effortless as always, and Shannon gets to spread her wings a bit more in drama.

For a Saturday Night Live writer's work, Other People is surprisingly sedated, and that might be its greatest strength. It is funny at times, but not showy like you would expect someone with a sketch comedy background to have. It lets things breath and occur naturally, which lends more credence to the deep feelings the characters must work through throughout the film. It lifts it above the going back home to find yourself fare, and at least shows there is some material to mine there.

Other People is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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